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Vanguard blew away the competition in Q1, fund flow data show

Investors flocked to the low-cost ETF provider in the first few months of 2020

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By Andrea Riquier

The Vanguard Group headquarters are seen in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

When it comes to ETFs, there are three big players, and then there’s everyone else, but in the first quarter, there was one asset manager to rule them all.

Data out Friday from FactSet showed that Vanguard pulled in $48.5 billion in the first three months of the year, more than four times its nearest competitor, BlackRock.

See: Three fund managers may soon control nearly half of all corporate voting power, researchers warn

Some of the other big gainers during the quarter reflect the market churn: the World Gold Council, issuer of the first gold ETF /zigman2/quotes/200593176/composite GLD -1.22%  , picked up about $4.3 billion. And Innovator, creator of a market buffer product profiled by MarketWatch last summer, was also among the top ten.

Company  Flow 
Vanguard          48,539,052,187
Blackrock          10,068,581,279
ProShares             6,671,233,889
Charles Schwab             5,938,401,000
Rafferty Asset Management             4,769,158,010
World Gold Council             4,262,691,510
Concierge Technologies             2,878,676,302
Citi                939,203,144
Goldman Sachs                858,715,650
Innovator                788,279,478
VanEck              (632,982,896)
Deutsche Bank              (989,417,442)
Credit Suisse          (1,211,195,262)
WisdomTree          (1,247,189,328)
Barclays           (1,294,826,847)
Northern Trust          (1,296,045,933)
Allianz          (1,663,697,300)
JPMorgan Chase          (2,590,410,432)
State Street          (3,567,170,794)
Invesco          (3,770,835,690)

As noted in the chart above, one of the biggest losers was State Street, one of the three biggest fund managers. Its flagship fund, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust /zigman2/quotes/209901640/composite SPY +0.15%  , is still the biggest —but it also saw the most outflows during the quarter, losing over $13 billion.

That’s because institutional investors use SPY as a trading tool, as previously reported, while Individual investors wanting to buy and hold the stocks in the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.15%   are far more likely to use the cheaper Vanguard version /zigman2/quotes/201209218/composite VOO +0.16% . Indeed, with $18.4 billion in inflows in the quarter, the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF was far and away the biggest winner.

Read next: How healthy are not-for-profit hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic?

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Andrea Riquier reports on housing and banking from MarketWatch's New York newsroom. Follow her on Twitter @ARiquier.

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